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Disney's DuckTales: What Did Critics Say Back in 1989?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on August 13, 2013   |   Episode 4 (Show Archive)  

   

DuckTales (NES)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Now that you have it downloading to your PlayStation 3, let's talk about the NES original. We already dug into the history of the show and game in Sunday's YOLO episode, but what did the game critics thinks of this 8-bit platformer at the time? Did they view it as an instant classic, or was it dismissed as yet another licensed property? Find out now as we dig through this giant pile of classic magazines.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

DuckTales (Capcom)

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY (Issue #6)
9 out of 10

"The best game ever made for the young player. After a dog of a game in Mickey Mouse, Capcom comes back with a game that combines all the right features to catch the younger player's, hold their interest, challenge their abilities, and keep them coming back. Only for the very young." -Ed

MEAN MACHINES (March 1991)
90% out of 100%

"Duck Tales contains some of the most exciting graphics I've seen on the Nintendo. The main sprite has some hilarious movements and reactions, especially when he's caught in the snow of the fourth level! My only gripe is that when Scrooge dies, you are sent right back to the beginning of the level - no matter how close to the end you are. Still, this is only a minor point, and doesn't distract from the overall excellence of the game. I recommend this game highly." -Matt

NINTENDO MAGAZINE SYSTEM #2
90% out of 100%

"Guide Scrooge McDuck through many scrolling platform levels in a bid to save his massive bank balance from a fate worse than Gary Harrod's financial affairs. This game features excellent cartoon graphics and very enjoyable gameplay. Once again, the NES comes up trumps with a skill platform game. Hurrah!"

RAZE #6
83% out of 100%

"Duck Tales is obviously aimed at a young market but if the time that had been spent on all the static screens had been spent on the gameplay itself, it would have resulted in a much stronger game with wider appeal. A shame more wasn't made of such a great Disney character."

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY (Issue #6)
8 out of 10

"This game has good graphics and a nice feel with plenty of emphasis on the cartoon like characters. Duck Tales is not overly challenging, but the theme is different and the game is fun to play. Don't get scared by the kiddie-look, this is a prime example of very good game designing." -Martin

NINTENDO POWER (Issue #7)
4 out of 5

"Join in the fun as the eccentric millionaire Scrooge McDuck goes on a world wide scavenger hunt for the five most valuable treasures known the duckkind. The five treasures are not the only valuable items Scrooge will find during his travels. Even though it is not necessary to gain treasures to finish the game, the size of the money piles in the ending scene change depending on how much treasure Scrooge gathers." -Editor

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY (Issue #6)
7 out of 10

"This is another Disney game that, like Mickey Mousecapde [sic] before it, has some deecent play mechanics that are toned down for the younger players. While I'm sure this is nice for kid brother or sister, you'll probably enjoy the game but find it beaten after the first day of play." -Sushi X
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 79% - I don't think I'm speaking out of turn when I say that DuckTales is a genuinely great game. Of all the classic 8-bit games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, this is one that holds up the best. So it's a little shocking to hear critics complain that it's aimed at children. I have an even harder time coming to grips with Raze, which complained that the gameplay wasn't strong enough and more should have been done with the great Disney character. Baffling.

Raze was not alone when it came to leveling criticism against DuckTales. Electronic Gaming Monthly argued that the 2D action game was not challenging enough, while Mean Machines griped that there weren't mid-level checkpoints. EGM's Sushi-X even compares DuckTales to Mickey Mousecapde, which isn't meant to be a compliment. He concludes his review by recommending it to your little brother or sister, because adults will never enjoy one of the best licensed games of all time.

Even with a few strong reviews from EGM and Mean Machines, DuckTales only managed to average 79%. That's quite a bit lower than I anticipated. It's pretty clear many critics wrote DuckTales off as little more than a kids' game. This is one of those times when they were wrong.

ORIGINAL VS. REMAKE? Have you played Capcom's brand new remake, DuckTales Remastered? I have, and I enjoyed most of what it had to offer. But the real question is: How does DuckTales Remastered stack up against the original? As it turns out, the two aren't that far apart. As we established above, DuckTales averaged a meager 79% out of 100%. According to MetaCritic, DuckTales Remastered averaged a 76 on Wii U, 75 on PlayStation 3, 70 on Xbox 360 and 66 on PC. That's a 10 point swing, depending on what system you choose. However, assuming we stick with the PS3 version, the 76 average was only a few points lower than the Review Crew average. I wonder what Austin Ivansmith makes of that?

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